The history of the loafer began in Norway as a moccasin-type slipper worn by farmers. They were exported throughout Europe and it wasn’t long before a couple of American companies began manufacturing them. The Spaulding family began making this style of shoe and called them ‘loafers’ after seeing images of these Norwegian farmers in a cattle loafing area. The term remains in use today in reference to many slip-on shoes.
In 1934 G.H. Bass started making loafers called Weejuns (sounding like Nor’wegians’), the difference being a band of leather with a diamond cutout across the saddle. Gaining popularity with prepsters in the 1950’s, a dime (the price of a phone call), was inserted into the cutout. Eventually, this gave way to a shiny penny and the name Penny Loafers caught on.
Leave it to Gucci to reinvent the penny loafer with a metal horse-bit across the front strap in the late 1960’s – which is still widely copied. Other modifications to the loafer through the 1980’s and on have included tassels, and a more casual form with a tie string that some call a ‘deck or boat shoe’.
There you have it! See the previous post to check out the loafers I have in stock – G.H. Bass ones too!